The Morning Line: Biden to the Rescue

BY David Chalian  August 20, 2010 at 8:38 AM EDT

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine tells the New York Times that there’s “gloom and doom” among his fellow Democrats who are facing the prospect of devastating losses in November’s midterm elections.

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Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to address the party faithful Friday morning at their annual summer meeting being held this year in St. Louis, Missouri.

After hearing President Obama test out some new lines on the campaign trail this week, we’ll get to see if Vice President Biden has a few new gems of his own in his campaign stump speech.

For many Democrats running in some of the tougher districts around the country, Vice President Biden is a heavily sought commodity on the trail. For the same reasons President Obama put Biden on the 2008 ticket — the Scranton, Pennsylvania-native who has a knack for plain speak and appeals to white Catholic voters — many vulnerable Democrats running in districts won by John McCain in 2008 may be more eager to have Biden as a surrogate on the campaign trail than the president.

HEALTH CARE HASSLE

Remember when the White House and congressional Democrats were convinced that support for health care reform would spike simply by getting it passed, signed into law and the American people familiar with the benefits?

It hasn’t quite turned out that way. The latest evidence is two-fold:

  1. CNN is out with a new poll Friday morning showing 40 percent of Americans approve of the health care reform law compared to 56 percent who remain opposed.
  2. Ben Smith of POLITICO has a great scoop with a look at a Democratic PowerPoint presentation that guides candidates away from the key selling points the Obama administration was pushing during the health care debate because the public doesn’t appear to be buying.

“Key White House allies are dramatically shifting their attempts to defend health care legislation, abandoning claims that it will reduce costs and deficit and instead stressing a promise to ‘improve it,’” writes Smith.

PRIMARY WOUNDS NOT YET FULLY HEALED

More bruising intra-party fights lie ahead in Florida next week for Republicans in the gubernatorial primary and Democrats in the Senate primary, and in New Hampshire next month for the GOP.

USA Today takes a look back at some of the more contentious primaries of the cycle thus far and sees that not all primary wounds heal so easily, especially this year on the Republican side.

“It’s just the latest example of the GOP’s Tea Party dilemma. In several high-profile races where the small-government activists have been a factor, standard rules of political etiquette dictating primary losers to graciously throw their support behind the party nominee aren’t being followed,” writes Kathy Kiely.

“Sometimes, it’s because conservative insurgents aren’t willing to toe the party line. In others, party veterans haven’t been able to swallow their disappointment over being elbowed aside.”

It’s unlikely that the lack of party unification in the summer will have too much of an impact come November. By the time the general election event rolls around — particularly in a base driven midterm election — partisans tend to find a path to supporting their nominee no matter where their support was during the primary season.

It does, however, provide one more complication for the GOP as it’s constantly trying to harness all that Tea Party energy into Republican electoral success in November.